Athi Shankar| March 10, 2012 : Hindraf chief among four recognised at inaugural Human Rights Conference of Indian Diaspora in New Delhi
GEORGE TOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti chairman P Waythamoorthy has been honoured with the Global Human Rights Defender of Indian Diaspora award.
He received the award from famous Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the inaugural Human Rights Conference of Indian Diaspora in Different Parts of the World.
Organised by India-based global human rights movement, Human Rights Defence India (HRDI), the conference, officiated by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, was held in New Delhi on Feb 24-25.
London-based Waythamoorthy was among four people who were honoured with the award. Other recipients were human rights defenders from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Waythamoorthy described his award as a global recognition of Hindraf’s human rights struggle for marginalised ethnic Malaysian Indians.
“The award has put the oppressed working class ethnic Malaysian Indian’s cause for social justice and equality in the forefront of international human rights forum,” he said.
Waythamoorthy has also presented a paper on ethnic social and economic cleansing of Malaysian Indians.
He touched on how nearly a million ethnic Indian workers were cleansed from plantations across Peninsular over the years without compensation, land resettlement programme ala Felda scheme and human resources development training programme.
He told the conference that ethnic Indians were transported into Malaya as early as 1786 because “they were hardworking, reliable and trustworthy manpower.”
He alleged that “the Indian blood, sweat and tears of more than 200 years” were ignored and neglected not only by the British colonial masters but also by their predecessors – the Malaya and now Malaysian government.
He also held government-link and private companies as equally accountable.
“These institutions have exploited and manipulated the Indians before dumping them in the trash like sucked oranges,” he said in the paper.
Waythamoorthy also compared the over 200 years of sacrifices and contributions by ethnic Indians with the mere 40-year contributions by ethnic Malay Felda LBJ settlers.
He said that the Felda settlers were made instant millionaires when the Umno government acquired their lands to make way for the KLIA project in Sepang in late 1980s.
“But ethnic Malaysian Indian workers in neighbouring Prang estate are still living illegally in shack-like long accomodations until today,” he said.
‘Award an inspiration to Indians around the world’
Meanwhile, HRDI secretary general Rajesh Gogna (right) said the human rights movement felt honoured for awarding Waythamoorthy and Hindraf.
He said the award was an honour for persons and organisations who took the risk and responsibility of defending human rights of Indian diaspora in different parts of the world.
“Who have been more deserving than the committed Waytha and Hindraf? We felt honoured to extend the award to Waythamoorthy and Hindraf,” said Rajesh Gogna in an e-mail to FMT.
He said the Indian diaspora were suffering blatant violations of various human and religious rights in many countries, especially in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Gulf states and Africa.
He said HRDI believed that Waythamoorthy’s award would inspire Indians around the world to come forward and be voice of Indian diaspora.
HRDI is committed to secularism and vows to stand by any person or group whose human rights are violated by states and fanatics.
HRDI believes that human rights empower citizens and, strengthen and underpin accountability mechanisms.
Through such mechanisms, the organisation believes people can hold their governments accountable through appropriate mechanisms, which are vital to curb abuses of power.
Since its inception in 2005, HRDI has organised international forums, symposiums, protest marches and demonstrations against human rights violations on voiceless and defenceless minorities.